Wednesday in Soho

September 17, 2015

On a hot Wednesday in Soho I was looking to dock my bike sharing Citibike when I came upon the West Broadway station.  The rack, on the opposite side of the street looked full though it was hard to tell as a non-descript van was parked in front and the a swarm of people  crowded the street.

I disembarked and crossed the street.  As I did, three men dressed in black with ski masks and guns stormed the jewelry store in front of the docking station.  Before deciding to fight or flight, or rather where I should flee, I zoomed out.  In that white van which I had barely registered was another driver dressed in black with a ski mask.  During traumatic events the brain absorbs more details which is why it feels like time is moving slowly, and in those split seconds I debated whether to ditch the Citibike or run on foot.  I further zoomed out and saw that all of the bystanders were simply standing.  In fact one was waving me to move along.  Then I noticed the cameras and production crew filming a scene from Blue Bloods.

Upon sharing this story I have had several reactions:  my sister who lives in Colombia gasped with each detail that emerged.  My stepfather a New Yorker for thirty plus years guessed the film crew. A friend that evening could not believe this had taken places merely hours before and it was not the first thing I had shared that evening.

I have not seen the show so I cannot attest to how realistic it screens but I can promise you being caught in the set I experienced genuine fear.


What Makes Mom Great?

August 17, 2015

1stressed mom

The pendulum of children’s moods swings far and fast.  A child can be completely content making up song lyrics and the next devastated and inconsolable because you drove past a McDonald’s without stopping.

My therapist reminds me the children’s job is to push and push and push.  Testing boundaries is inherent in their nature.  As a parent I am supposed to remain still and stern.  A concrete wall which does not crumble.  And yet.

My kids wear me down, can break my spirit and completely exasperate any sliver of energy.  And yet.

They can also delight, entertain and surprise me with their incredible insight.  I enjoy my children.  When we laugh together I try to perpetuate it.  Joy is laughing with a child.  True joy is laughing with your children.

I lose my cool with the kids, more often than I would like.  Since nobody enjoys losing one’s cool, no amount is pleasurable.

The other night, a mom who’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication to her children I admire told me I was an excellent mom.  This is the same mother whose home I I have been trying to send my son for a sleepover to have a little break.  What makes a mom excellent?

As with anything, there is always room for improvement.  Perhaps wanting to improve as a parent is a sign of a good one.  I began reflecting on what I do with my kids, and it is plenty.  And yet.  There is plenty I do not do.  I am fortunate enough to create a balance where I am able to be with my children and still have an identity distinct from mother and wife which helps me appreciate my many roles.   A happy mother is a good mother.

While my 6 and 8 year old were assembling Legos this evening, I asked how each would rate me on a scale of 1-10.  My oldest nearly said 10 and while she was thinking about it, my son said 10.  Then my daughter said about a billion.


Pride and religion

July 17, 2015

My views on religion began in Sunday school and were fed to me.  Over the years and through so many communities I now must decide how I will incorporate Judaism into my children’s lives.

I want temple to be something they enjoy and not begrudge attending, as I did.  I was raised that Orthodox Judaism is the ideal and everything else was less than, a diluted version of the religion.  It took Judith Plaskow a Jewish Feminist scholar to in a college seminar that many sects of the religion think differently.  Piety is not everyone’s goal.

Judaism is unique in that it is as much a religion as it is a culture and identity. I want my children to embrace their identity and know their roots. Our ancestors were slaves.  We were ridiculed, exiled and slaughtered for our beliefs. If not for the grace of G-d we too could endure this.  We should learn what it is that our forefathers fought to observe.

It should be a blessing and a pleasure to remember our fortune and celebrate our heritage.

I hope my children can embrace this.


Secret Indulgence

September 30, 2014

I just finished reading I’m Having So Much Fun Without You about a husband whose wife discovers he had been cheating for seven months.

Spoiler Alert: The mistress leaves to get married and his wife leaves him.

He does not so much regret the affair as he does his wife discovering it.  Both he and the mistress loved engaging in this fantasy parallel life that does not involve taking out the garbage.

To have the fantasy is okay; to act on it and jeopardize everything is not worth it.

Since a recent surgery kept me barely mobile for two weeks and then tack on another week of healing, Hubby and I have been on a sexual hiatus.  During this time he went to Los Angeles for two nights.  If I’m aware how long it has been, my able bodied husband must be feeling the void.

What if, what if he went to Los Angeles and had sought physical satisfaction elsewhere?  It would not mean anything, just that he was horny and he seized an opportunity.  I would not want to know.  I cannot imagine my husband doing it but if for some super stupid reason he was tempted with a brief escape, I do not think it would enhance our relationship in any way if I knew.  It would only hurt both of us more.

A New York Magazine article I had read a decade ago mentioned a couple who stayed together after a dalliance and when they would fight, however many years later, the scorned partner would remind the other of the affair.  It never goes away.

And how could one night, weekend, month of pleasure via a deceptive escape be worth the future of your family.

Personally, I’ll find other indulgences


The Pain Game

January 27, 2014

I’m in a lot of pain.  

My lower back is vulnerable to spasm in the lumbar region.  The pain ranges from mild discomfort to extraordinary cannot-move agony.  

My back can be good for months and even some years on end or flare up by doing the slightest movement in the wrong condition.  

 

I could feel the most recent outbreak looming before the big spasm. Despite my efforts to prevent it, the spasm debilitated me for three days.  

A recent X-ray did not show any abnormalities, for which I am grateful.  My younger self may have been disappointed that there was no concrete problem to correct, but my wiser current self knows that disk trouble would only complicate.  An MRI is scheduled for next week and if it is anything like the one from my back episode three years ago, it will reveal little if anything.  

 

Apart from physical therapy, my doctor has little to recommend.  I had been doing all of the exercises to strengthen my core and using caution when lifting.  My husband noted that these spasms correspond to emotional anniversaries or upcoming stresses.  With two parents recently gone and the normal stresses of a mother/wife/human – there are ample occasions to celebrate writhing on the floor in agony.  

I am no longer in the extreme pain, but my back still does not feel great. Today my stomach is tightening and a wave of nausea lingers during normal activities that should not cause pain. I could return to the Dr who I once visited with great frequency to target the trigger points.  I am optimistically trying Dr. Sarno’s book which exposes the mind – body connection.  Tension Myositis Syndrome is the physical manifestation of back pain from mental obstacles.  At least I think so. I can report after reading the book which should arrive this week.  It feels so indulgent to take a nap, especially with my cleaning lady and nanny both working as my son takes a nap.  High class problems! Real pain.  

 

Amazon should deliver it tomorrow.  


The Wrong Number

January 22, 2014

 

Before my first cell phone, a college graduation present, I had at most three telephone numbers.  My private line in college had voicemail where I would record silly greeting each time trying to outdo myself.  The succinct and efficient, “hello….No she’s is not here can I take a message” would catch veteran callers like my parents. 

 

The second number was for my parents’ houses.  My father did not have an answering machine and despite his desire for detailed and delivered messages he did not reciprocate.  He might scribble something resembling a message that would lay by the phone for days without acknowledging the recipient. That left my mom’s house complete with an answering machine and a favorable chance of me receiving information of an actual call.  As a result, family members could destroy more relationship attempts unconsciously than if they had attempted to an actual sabotage.   

 

Unlike today when we can track contacts over Facebook, Linkedin, email and text, I would entertain the idea that someone did indeed could not figure out how to contact me.  Nobody had warned me that he was just not into me. 

 

The benefit of the anonymity meant that it was easier to give false numbers that would not be immediately verified.  I’m sure the equivalent exists now, but as married mom I am not familiar with such brush-offs. 

 

Through poor handwriting, I had discovered that my phone number resembled that of a local hotline.  Dial my number except replace a scrawny “7” a “1” and reach Eddie, or Brenda at the Hamptons Transsexual Hotline. Twenty years ago this was even more taboo making adults and college kids snicker with amusement and so my sister and I discovered our false number. 


End of Life Support

November 1, 2013

Having experienced a disproportionate amount of loss in the last five years I have become proficient of the grieving process.  I can offer all the words of comfort to a mourner, share sympathies and some rationalizations to make sense of the loss no matter how sudden or expected.  I can ask the questions that a caregiver might want to hear during the ill’s end of life.  

 

Life has a zero percent survival rate.  

Nobody gets out alive.  

It is supposed to be difficult and awful.  
The grief is proportionate to the love. 

Loss is always too soon.  

Death is part of the cycle.  

And of course It could always be worse.

 

But just because it could be worse does not mean the moment and grief are seemingly unbearable.  Perhaps in worse situations the heart can find an even lower place to sink. 

And when we loose someone we love, religion tells us to Bless the Lord, whoever you may perceive as such.  Thank Him for allowing someone into our lives who we will miss.  Praise this higher being for He is the true judge.  We mere mortals think with our hearts and wish our family could live with us eternally on earth.  But they cannot.  And we know that.  But we still wish they could.  

The loss of my mom was devastating and shocking.  I could not comprehend how I could continue with her absence.  

Three years later, the loss of uncle was a painful surprise.  He was not part of my daily life so his passing did not dominate my thoughts and actions as my mother’s. 

The following year my father lay in a hospital bed telling me that he was not going to get better.  There was laughter and tears. If given the choice on one’s passing, my father would have gladly checked the box that said surrounded by family remembering great times.  But I was numb.  Somehow I had known in the months leading up to his bedside declaration that cancer was going to win.  Of course I did not want to believe it but I braced myself for it.  So the grief was not as shocking.  I had already faced my beliefs on death and afterlife, and memorized the script of comfort.  This is the right order of events.  It’s always too soon.  It could be worse. etc.

And last week my 99 year old grandmother who had buried two sons in the past 20 months passed away.  It should not have been a surprise.  She had scares before often having myself or another family member rush in to visit.  Better to come in and have some fun, then visit for the funeral, Grandma used to say.  Nonetheless her loss is painful.  There is a whole in the universe where this outspoken strong matriarch once commanded.  

And it is with these losses that my ancestry has disappeared.  As it is supposed to be, eventually.  And even then it will be too soon.  

 

I look to my husband, my three healthy children and thank the man above for my blessings.  

And I curl up in a ball wishing an elder was looking out for me here on Earth.  

This is the lot I received.  Some days I am more grateful for the family I had and the one I am creating, and other days the loneliness has a firmer grip.   

 

As I teach my children, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.